The C is for Crank
Seattle Times: City Should Force Developers To Build Parking
The Seattle Times hates the free market.
That's the logical conclusion, anyway, from today's front-page story parroting a handful of neighborhood activists' belief that a proposal to lift government regulations on parking will make their parking problems worse. No data. (Actual, totally unbiased headline: "Parking around Seattle may get worse as city planners favor transit.") Currently, city law requires developers to build a certain number of parking spaces at new developments in most parts of the city; the new rules the Times hates, which I wrote about last month, would lift those minimum parking requirements for developments within a quarter-mile of frequent transit service.
Note that the change wouldn't force developers not to provide parking; instead, it would loosen regulations so that they no longer have to. Currently, the city forces developers in most areas to provide a certain amount of parking (typically one stall per unit), at an average cost of between $10,000 and $25,000 a stall; under the new regulations, developers who build near frequent transit service would have the choice to provide parking or not.
Not that you would know any of that from the Times' coverage, which features lengthy quotes from: One auto shop owner who says everyone in Seattle owns at least one, and often two, cars; a Squire Park neighborhood activist who asserts (without providing evidence) that all the street parking in his neighborhood is always taken; and 200 Queen Anne residents who signed a petition opposing a senior-living facility because it would include only 26 parking spaces for 66 senior residents. (In comparison, the story features just three brief quotes from transit proponents.)
That's a lot of assertions. So where's the data? Or, for that matter, the news? (As I mentioned, the city rolled out its plan to eliminate minimum parking requirements near transit service, along with other regulatory changes, nearly a month ago). Not in the Times' story, which---much like its story about Chinatown businesses' fears that longer parking hours will put them out of business, which ran earlier this month (and which also bugged me)---relies almost entirely on individual residents' feelings and fear of change.
I understand that stories about how the mean ol' city is going to take your car away make for attention-grabbing front-page headlines. But that conclusion simply isn't borne out by the facts. Unless the Seattle Times is seriously arguing that loosening regulations and reducing red tape for developers is bad---and that certainly isn't in line with their editorial policy on any other issue---then stories like this one are just fear-mongering via screaming front-page headline.